British Columbia
2 min

An accord imposed

One would think that healthcare accord
negotiations would be a difficult task, slated to take place over the course of
the remaining two years of the current accords, with discussions about
benchmarks, deliverables and ways in which to reform the system to meet changing
demands as acute-care funding models transition to prevention, chronic disease
and homecare for the aging population. It’s why Paul Martin appointed a former
provincial premier to the post of health minister, because he knew that said
minister (in this case, Ujjal Dosanjh) would need the working knowledge of what
the provincial concerns would be and how to work with the provinces to achieve
shared goals.

But this is the Harper Government™, and
that’s not the way things happen. At the finance ministers’ meeting in
Victoria, BC, yesterday, Jim Flaherty set aside a whole hour on the agenda to
talk healthcare funding – an item that wasn’t agreed to two weeks previous –
and he laid down the law, so to speak. The six percent per year funding
escalator will be continued for an additional year from the Conservatives previously
agreed-to promise – now the 2016/2017 budget year – at which point they would increase
at the nominal rate of GDP growth, going no less than four percent growth. And,
boy, are most of the provinces pissed about it – especially the way in which it
was dealt to them from on high.

It’s an interesting approach to federalism,
in an age where the intergovernmental affairs minister is pretty much a phantom
in the House of Commons, rising to speak even less than the minister of
national revenue. Paul Wells makes note of the pattern, in which the federal government
continues to spend in ways that follow Harper’s long-held ideological belief
that the federal government should not be encroaching on “legitimate provincial
jurisdiction.” It’s not a bad thesis, and something that We The Media should be
keeping our eyes on.

Meanwhile, Kady O’Malley calls shenanigans on Peter Van Loan’s attempt to claim that the government's amendments to the omnibus crime
bill are actually substantially different from those that Irwin Cotler proposed
(hint: they’re actually not), and she reminds the Conservatives of a previous
attempt to declare a piece of legislation as fait accompli when it was not.
That piece of legislation was the GST under Brian Mulroney’s Progressive
Conservatives, and they got smacked down pretty hard because of it, and yet the
Conservatives are trying to claim the long-gun registry is pretty much scrapped
at this point (though some of their language may get them off on a
technicality). Still, not a good precedent to be following.

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